Hargeisa (Caasimada Online) – Somaliland President Muse Bihi has taken responsibility for the deaths of civilians in LasAnod, a city in the breakaway region of Somalia, during ongoing anti-government protests.
Reports from hospitals in Hargeisa, the regional capital, indicate that most of the at least 20 civilians killed by security forces in the state died from bullet wounds. But in his remarks, Bihi put the death toll at three and stated that nine others were wounded.
“We are very sorry; we send condolences; the entire Somaliland shares the pain with you,” Bihi said in his statement, expressing regret at the loss of lives in LasAnod.
He promised to investigate the incident and withdraw troops from the town once stability had been restored but accused the federal government of Somalia and the regional government of Puntland of interfering in the affairs of Somaliland.
Bihi said Somaliland would not allow Mogadishu and Garowe to continue “interfering” in the region’s affairs.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud requested last week that the regional government and members of the security forces engage in immediate dialogue, emphasizing the need for stability in the region.
The president also condemned the use of excessive force by the security forces to quell the legal demonstrations.
On Tuesday, Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni threatened a “military and political solution” if the situation in Somaliland persists. Deni refuted the claim that he was fully engaged in local political contests to the detriment of security in LasAnod.
He called on politicians and public intellectuals to come together to find a lasting solution.
Protests in LasAnod, the capital of the Sool region, erupted following the assassination of Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi Hadrawi after he left a Mosque. The killing of a prominent figure has ignited outrage in the previously stable region.
The situation has led to condemnation from members of the international community. In a statement released on Sunday, the international community expressed their deep concern about the ongoing violence in LasAnod and the numerous civilian deaths and casualties that have resulted.
The statement called for calm and restraint and urged all parties to work towards de-escalating the situation and resolving tensions through dialogue.
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 following the Somali government collapse and the civil war outbreak.
Despite its efforts, it has not been recognized as an independent state by any country or international organization.